It’s Wednesday, April 11, 2018 and it’s my birthday. Ok, I’m entitled to feel a little bit special today, but mostly, I feel relieved. You see, if you have known me for any length of time, you know that I not only hated my birthday, I did everything possible to not acknowledge it. Obviously since the advent of Facebook, I’ve had to acknowledge it, but it has taken me decades to even tolerate it.
I think my birthday-phobia started on my 18th. I remember waking up that morning and saying to myself “Well, it’s all downhill from here.” Seriously? At 18 I thought everything from that point forward was going to be “downhill??” And believe me, it’s not like I was a happy teenager either. I guess it’s kind of funny in retrospect, but also quite maudlin. After I turned 18 I continued to celebrate birthdays with friends and family, albeit reluctantly. It was when I was 26 that I was truly scarred and stopped celebrating all together.
I had been invited up to the main offices of BMG for a meet-and-greet by the then VP of marketing and promotion. He had recently “discovered” me and was excited to introduce me to the A&R staff, get me finally signed to a major label deal, and be the one responsible for my fame and fortune. Sadly, that’s not what happened. He escorted me around, introducing while I shook hands with everyone and remembered to smile and look them in the eyes. Then this woman whose name I have blocked-out asked, “How old is she,” as if I wasn’t even there. TWENTY SIX I exuberantly announced.
At that point it was like watching roaches scatter when you turn on a light. They all excused themselves, had “other meetings” and left. I was now alone with the VP who steered me into an empty office. “Don’t EVER do that again!” He said to me with pursed lips and a vein throbbing from the side of his neck. “Do what?” I completely and innocently asked. “I thought you were ten years younger. I’m really sorry, but this isn’t going to happen. You’re too old and hopefully no one here will spread the word to other labels, but there’s no way you’ll get signed by BMG. I’m really sorry. Oh, and don’t ever tell anyone your age ever again. It will kill any chance you may still have of a career.”
I was shocked. 26 was too old? I looked great, felt great. I’d already had small success with an independent label. Who cared what the number was? Apparently major labels did, so from that point forward, I never celebrated or spoke my age or date of birth ever again.
Scroll forward few months later. I’ve met the man I will spend the rest of my life with. His family makes a BIG deal about birthdays, and I let him know while trying to not sound like a lunatic, that I do NOT celebrate. In fact, I don’t even want to acknowledge it. In fact, it will be a miracle if I get through the day without profuse sobbing episodes. I’m not exaggerating either. My birthday had become a day of mourning for me that would take at least a week for me to recover from.
Years passed. My then boyfriend/now husband learned ow to distract me on “the day.” It usually involved excursions away from others and monitoring phone calls, the mail and any other source of reminder. Then Facebook happened and in order to have an account, you had to give the dreaded day. I decided that maybe this was an opportunity to heal a little. I could give the month and day but listed the year as 1900! If anyone asked how old I was, I would delete their question. I could handle this. And I did to a certain extent.
My career as an independent musician was fully formed. I had long given up dreams of the magical major label deal. I could just be. I could allow people to be nice to me. I still hated the fact that another year had passed and I hadn’t accomplished this or that. I interpreted it as a marker for failure. I did love reading the posts and feeling loved.Thankfully that aspect became more relevant than what I hadn’t accomplished that particular trip around the sun.
And then there was this morning. I woke around 6am to use the bathroom. My husband and kitty were sleeping sweetly. My heart swelled as I noticed them breathing in and out. Mound of fur, outline of husband, rising and falling in concert with one another.
I made my way to the guest bathroom so as to not wake either of them. I love that bathroom. It has a moon and sun theme and this window that faces east so you can see the sun rising. The sun hadn’t quite emerged yet so I stood on my tippy toes to watch. It was then that I realized, oh, it’s here. I’m a new number. I felt my joy start to synch into sadness. I looked out at the sky on fire, and the glorious trendies of light emerging, and it was then that it hit me. All those years ago on this day, my parents woke for the moment they had been waiting for. Six years of marriage, two miscarriages, and today, April 11th, they were finally going to get their baby.
I was a scheduled delivery, so I am guessing that they both probably woke early on April 11th with great anticipation. Maybe one or both of them looked out the window of their apartment in Queens, and the sun hadn’t quite risen yet either. Today was the day both of them had been waiting and hoping for, and it was finally here.
I felt this sudden rush of energy and tears. Today was a good day. My birth brought tremendous joy to two people that I love more than words can express. It bought joy to my Grandparents. My Aunts, cousins, family friends. My parents, Phyliss and Barry were finally going to have the child that they so desperately wanted. All I had to do was be born. This morning as the sun rose, I think for the first time, I felt their joy in my own being.
I decided that this day is worth celebrating. This is the day Phyliss and Barry became parents. To mark this day, I will continue to live my purpose and continue to strive for my goals. I intend to: do no harm to others, be kind, maybe make one person feel a little less alone, write a song that tugs on someone’s heartstrings, make someone feel special, inspire someone else to be kind.
So today is my birthday. For the first time since I turned 18, I am very grateful that it is. All I had to do was be born and it changed two people’s lives forever. I am a blip on the timeline of this planet, this universe, but my birth sparked joy for two other blips. Thank you sun, for reminding me to be grateful.